Every year around 14 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues which have not been properly installed or maintained.
Many others also suffer ill health. When gas does not burn properly, as with other fuels such as coal, wood or oil, excess carbon monoxide is produced, which is poisonous. You can’t see it. You can’t taste it. You can’t even smell it. But carbon monoxide can kill without warning in just a matter of hours.
You are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if:
- an appliance was poorly installed;
- an appliance is not working properly;
- an appliance has not been checked for safety or maintained regularly;
- there is not enough fresh air in the room;
- a chimney or flue gets blocked up;
- you allow an engineer who is not on the Gas Safe Register to install or maintain your appliance(s).
There is a particular risk if you sleep in a room where an appliance that is not of the room-sealed type (e.g a conventional gas fire) is left burning at night. (Flue outlets for room-sealed appliances are commonly located on an external wall at a low level protected by a cage rather than at or above roof level.)
What do I need to know?
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 place duties on gas consumers, installers, suppliers and landlords. These regulations link with other safety controls on combustion equipment, e.g the Building Regulations, which are standards for ventilation and flues. For your own protection remember:
by Law only a competent person can carry out work on gas appliances or fittings
Do-it-yourself work on gas appliances or fittings could be dangerous and is likely to be illegal
by Law anyone carrying out work on gas appliances or fittings as part of their business must be competent and registered with the Gas Safe Register.
Always check your engineer is registered by asking to see their ID card which has a photo of the engineer, their business registration number and personal licence number, company name, the start and expiry date of the card and a security hologram. The reverse of the card details what kind of gas work the engineer is able to do. You can also call Gas Safe Register during normal office hours on 0800 408 5500 or go to the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk;
by Law you must not use any gas appliance or fittings you know or suspect to be unsafeThrough Gas Safe Register, HSE has asked all registered engineers to disconnect any gas appliance or fittings which are so dangerous as to be a threat to life if they are used. If your engineer asks your permission to disconnect such an appliance or fitting it will be in the interests of your own safety, and that of others, to agree. Before you use this appliance or fitting again, have it repaired by a Gas Safe registered engineer;